No More 'Performative Gestures': BLM Sacramento Purchases Land to Build Community and Resource Center for Black People

Black Lives Matter Sacramento founder Tanya Faison speaks to reporters about plans for land that the organization purchased with donations from the community.
Black Lives Matter Sacramento founder Tanya Faison speaks to reporters about plans for land that the organization purchased with donations from the community.
Screenshot: ABC 10

The Black Lives Matter movement can’t only be about protests. Anti-racism demonstrations that have erupted across the nation have done a fine job of raising awareness about systemic racism in America and have sent a clear message that there will be no peace without justice, but building a community that supports the betterment of Black people also means—for lack of a more sophisticated way of putting this—having our own shit.

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BLM Sacramento has taken its first step towards true Black community building by taking unsolicited donations that it received after the wave of protests that began last summer and using them to purchase a plot of land that it plans to use to build its first-ever home in Sacramento’s Oak Park.

The BLM chapter’s founder, Tanya Faison, spoke to ABC 10 about the organization’s plans and what prompted the move.

From ABC 10:

“We see a lot of performative gestures from the city and the county to where we’re not seeing actual change, it just looks like change, and I’m just sick of seeing that, I’m sick of experiencing that, I want to see actual change,” Faison said.

After the Minnesota police killing of George Floyd, which led to nationwide protests, her chapter received an outpouring of unsolicited donations from across the community. After that, as the year went on, Sacramento homicide numbers started to surge.

“There started being a string of killings throughout Sacramento, intracommunity violence,” Faison said. “So at that point, we want wanted to start impacting the community in a way that provides resources to the community.”

That’s when they came up with the idea to use the donations to buy land and, soon, build a home meant to serve as a bit of a ‘one-stop shop’ resource center and safe space for the black community in the heart of Oak Park.

“Because it’s Oak Park, it’s heavily gentrified, we wanted to bring blackness back into the area,” Faison said.

I’d like to take a second to point out that Faison has provided a prime example of how white people don’t know what they’re talking about when they ask “what about crime within the Black community?” Of course, they’re typically being rhetorical when they ask their racist little question that they don’t believe has an actual answer, but the fact is when crime surges in our communities, there are always efforts by the community to address it and do something about it. A BLM chapter purchasing land to use as a resource center for Black people might be a unique thing, but Black people creating programs meant to curb violence in Black communities is not.

In fact, The Root’s Michael Harriot has already done a brilliant job of including that point when he made his case for why the “Black-on-Black crime” narrative is utter white supremacist nonsense.

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Anyway, Faison said the plans for the newly purchased land plot includes building spaces for community events, workshops, therapy and legal clinics so that Black people have access to competent legal representation and education if they need it.

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“We want to do different things in the community that bring community together but also like make real changes to where community is relying on itself or each other, instead of relying on the city or the county for band-aids.” Faison said. “We need to actually build what we need and we need to build the change that we want to see.”

And there you have it. A lot of the time, all we have is us. Hopefully, we see more of this type of action in Black communities across the nation.

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

DISCUSSION

Yep. If you want something done, we always have to do it ourselves. The Black Panther Party back in the day, knew that and tried it. The government destroyed them for their efforts to uplift the black community. Just imagine how successful we’d be now some 50 years later if they had just let them alone. But they just couldn’t have black folk with both knowledge and weaponry running around.

Let’s hope this time that the footing is solid in helping us fend for ourselves.